Rice begins Turkey pressure talks

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Turkey today to keep up diplomatic pressure on preventing an invasion of northern Iraq.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Turkey today to keep up diplomatic pressure on preventing an invasion of northern Iraq.

She met Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other high-ranking officials as part of the campaign to stop Turkey going through with a threat to send troops across the border to fight Kurdish guerrillas.

American believes that would destabilise the calmest part of Iraq, and could set a precedent for other countries like Iran, who are also involved in conflicts with Kurds.

But Turkey insists it will carry out its threat if the United States does not take meaningful action against the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

Before she arrived in Ankara Ms Rice said the United States, Turkey and Iraq would jointly counter the Kurdish rebels, whose attacks over the last month have left 47 Turks dead, including 35 soldiers.

“We have a common enemy and we are going to act as if we have a common enemy, which means that we are going to work with our Turkish allies and the Iraqis” to have an effective way of dealing with the PKK, she said.

Ms Rice’s agenda includes meetings with Mr Erdogan, who travels to Washington to meet President Bush on Monday, and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.

The PKK, which seeks more rights and autonomy for Turkish Kurds, is labelled a terrorist group by Europe and the United States.

The Iraqi Kurds have warned Turkey against an offensive, saying they will defend their territory.

Turkey is wary of getting bogged down in a conflict that could be militarily inconclusive and politically damaging for a country seeking to improve its international image by joining the European Union.

After meetings in Ankara Ms Rice will travel to Istanbul for a conference on Iraq that is likely to be dominated by talk about the crisis on the Iraqi-Turkish border.

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